Hunters ready for opener

It’s that time of year once again in Wisconsin.ÿAs the leaves change and the temperatures begin to drop, a young man’s thoughts turn once again to . hunting season!

For those of you unfortunate enough to have grown up in an urban environment, where you view rifles and shotguns with a hint of fear, rest assured. Hunters, for the most part, know the dangers associated with firearms, and take great steps to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the hunt.

In fact, hunters as a group are probably some of the most environmentally astute people you will ever encounter.ÿThey know that you don’t shoot indiscriminately. They know they carry the power of life and death in their hands. And the more experienced hunters take great pride in instilling these values in the hearts and minds of younger hunters.

I can still remember getting my first BB gun when I was 6 years old. I remember how I was taught about weapons safety, that this was no toy, and that I had to be extra careful whenever I handled this weapon. Ah, the hours I spent just shooting paper targets, so that I would be assured of hitting what I aimed at in the future, and not let an errant shot do too much damage to the trees or someone’s house or car.

I remember going out into the woods to take hot coffee and a few sandwiches to the older men in the hunting party. I remember how I had to dress in blaze orange so as not to be hidden from view as I approached the hunters. I recall many of the stories I heard over the years, stories of glorious hunts in the past, and the anticipation of who would get bragging rights for the next year.

Hunting is much more than going out into the woods and killing an animal.ÿ Hunting involves learning about your environment, about the habits of your prey, about strategy and planning and looking out for others in the woods who are doing the same thing. It’s about camaraderie and friendship amongst the hunters, about passing on the stories and traditions from one generation to the next.ÿ For some, it’s a chance to get out into the woods, away from an office and a desk for a week or two.

And for the real hunters, hunting is a means of providing some healthy food for your family, not the chemically grown, steroid-injected foodstuffs we routinely purchase at a store. You won’t find a deer or a duck munching down on a plate full of steroids.

Hunters learn how to process what they kill.ÿ They learn how to skin an animal, how to gut it, how to preserve and store it until it can be cooked and eaten.ÿ Remember, as Ted Nugent is so fond of saying, “You have to kill it to grill it.” And, ah, what a tasty flavor it is, the taste of freshly killed venison steaks, marinated in a light wine sauce, seasoned with just a touch of garlic and butter, grilled over a wood fire, or roast duck stuffed with fresh onions and tomatoes, glazed with honey, brown sugar and dill weed.

If you’ve never had a meal of fresh food, straight out of the woods, you should find out what you’re missing. It sure beats Burger King.